tv U.S. Senate Democrats Speak Against Travel Ban as Acting AG is Fired CSPAN January 30, 2017 4:59pm-7:00pm EST
in the days and weeks ahead. in the meantime, let me just say a few words about the desire back and forth between the trump administration and the news media regarding attendance at the inauguration, who's telling the truth, who's not. one might thing with all happening in the country and the world, the rush by the president to sign executive orders that would dramatically affect the rights and priorities of millions of americans that the question about how many people were at the inauguration wouldn't generate much controversy. but it turns out this is much more than that. it goes to the heart, the role of a free press in this country. and whether the american people can have confidence the president is telling the truth. now, we already knew the candidate, now president trump is prone to bragging and making
wildly unrealistic promises and inaccurate claims, many of which he later disavows. he frequently ignores and mistake -- misstates basic facts and refuses to correct these falsehoods so it's no surprise that the predicted crowd at his inaguration would be unbelievable, perhaps record setting turnout. it was also no surprise as usually happens at inaugurations of republicans and democrats or large public demonstrations that you have high elevation of photographs, and those are used to estimate the number of participants. you can actually look at the photograph, and count the number of people. now, i have ateppedded every -- now, i have attended every inauguration since president carter's inauguration.
and certainly anyone who attended both the obama and trump inaugurations, it was obvious the number of people at president obama's inauguration was far larger than president trump's inauguration. the photographs show that very, very clearly. it should be just a nonissue. but then president trump insisted the photographs were fabricated. the morning after the inauguration, you could see from the stage of the west front of the capitol that there were a million, or a million and a half people on the mall sms i was standing ten feet from them. i saw no such thing. and when reports clearly showed only a fraction of that, he accused news organizations of lying. he called them -- quote -- "among the most dishonest human beings on earth." on earth. he warned they'd regret t later that day, the president's spokesperson sean spicer accused
the press had lied. he said the photographs were deceptive. the photographs were taken the same way they're always taken, either republican or democratic inaugurals. he insisted president trump's inauguration was the most watched ever, which of course was a clever distortion of what the president actually said. the president of course was talking about those present on the mall. i don't think people really care, but unfortunately he does. a day later, mr. spicer said the press had been unfair reporting on this. perhaps he had forgotten it was president trump who initiated the whole thing by publicly promising something did not happen and the press simply reported what he said. then he false willy accused the
press of lying, as did mr. spicer, as he was proven wrong. he -- mr. spicer may have forgotten that shortly after president obama's inauguration, the senate majority leader announced that the republican's number-one priority was to prevent him from being elected to a second term. failing that, they spent eight years trying to obstruct, sabotage, and discredit everything president obama tried to do. during much of that time, donald trump carried out an utterly false campaign saying that president obama was not a legitimate president because he lied about his birthplace. remarkable impression on president obama that he was able to get a birth announcement in hawaii one day after he was
born. two days later, without setting any oh, because there is none, president trump resurrected his false claim that he lost the popular vote because 3 million to 5 million illegal immigrants voted. of course, that's patently false and absurd. but one can assume they'll be repeated by those who want to justify a more onerous, discriminatory voter suppression -- voting requirements. which has been a crusade of theirs. to add insult to injury, kellyanne conway announced that president trump after all will not release his tax returns, this after candidate trump promised to do so once a routine audit is completed. she is, after all, the person that came up with the phrase "alternative facts."
now, i said nobody cares. well, people have to file tax returns do care. they want to know whether the president has conflicts of interest or whether he's been telling the truth about what he owes or whether he's enriching himself at our expense. actually, they took a poll. they found between 60% and 74% of american people want president trump to release his tax returns, democrats and republicans, including 49% of his own supporters. well, we heard the response to that. stephen bannon said the media should keep its mouth shut. he calls the media the opposition party and does not understand this country. this in the nation that has the greatest freedom of press of any country. maybe they like what they do in russia where they -- where their friend putin suppresses the
press. so he's denigrated the press, attacked muslims, attacked the c.i.a., attacked mexico, attacked marijuan -- attacked ml streep, attacked joh congressman john louis, attacked migrants. i take that back. there was one glaring exception. one of the worst gangsters in this world, vladimir putin, is prayed and -- praised and not attacked. despite credible evidence that the russian government and putin actively sought to sway the outcome of the election to favor donald trump. now president trump has repea repeatedly expressed admiration for president putin. the conclusion of the u.s. intelligence agencies is that vladimir putin, a former k.g.b.
antiquity, ordered cyber attack on our electoral system to favor one candidate over another. russia's goal was, as ours own intelligence agriculture r. agents said, was to undermine public faith in the u.s. process, damage hillary clinton and potential presidency. now, mailed be the response? my friends in the republican party, if the tables were turned -- if a man like putin had done this to their party, they would try to shut down the government until we had a new election. certainly ask for an independent commission, as many have to find out what they d so senator durbin and i have called for. president trump simply continues
to praise vladimir putin. this should concern us all because for years, vladimir putin has engaged in a systematic campaign to weaken the alliances, to weaken nato. a manage who has become one of the most wealthiest people in the world. the money is stolen. i see my distinguished colleag colleague, the senior senator from california, and so i would ask consent to put my full statement in the record. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. leahy: and i'd certainly ask we go back as parties to work together. i intend to vote for a number of president trump's nominees. i'll vote against others. but stop -- stop the alternative facts. facts should be facts.
the presiding officer: morning business is closed. under the previous order, the senate will proceed to executive session to resume consideration of the tiller song nomination, which the clerk will report. the clerk: nomination, department much state, rex w. tillerson of texas to be secretary. the presiding officer: under the previous order, thrt there will now be 30 minutes of debate equally divided in the usual form. mrs. feinstein: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from california. mrs. feinstein:man, how much time do i have? the presiding officer: the time has not been specifically apportioned to the senator from california. mrs. feinstein: well, thank you. i will try to confine it because i know there are others. i have come to the floor. we have just filed a resolution, a bill actually with 26 cosponsors that would repeal the immigration ban placed by president trump.
mr. president, president trump's muslim bang is unnecessary -- ban is unnecessary, unconstitutional, and un-american. and it should be repealed immediately. the executive order prohibits individuals from iran, syria, iraq, sudan, somalia, libya, and yemen from entering the country. it even bars relatives of americans from visiting. the order suspends the entire u.s. refugee program and, most egregiously, syrian refugees are banned indefinitely. unless they're christian. these provisions aren't what american is all about, mr. president. first, the order is unnecessary. individuals from the seven targeted countries and 150 other nations are already thoroughly screened. visitors fill out visa applications. they submit photographs that run through biometric databases.
their personal information is reviewed, including names, addresses, and dates of birth. they're interviewed at a united states consulate. the process can make months to complete and eliminates the need for the travel ban. in addition, the move to ban refugees has no regiment national security reasoning, because these refugees undergo an even more thorough screening process that can take up to two years to complete. the vast majority of refugees are women and children who have experienced the absolute worst of humanity. let us not forget the heart-wrenching image of the small body of the alan kurdy, a 3-year-old syrian boy washed up on a beach dead. i will never forget this small boy in his short pants, his shoes, and his socks lying on that beach.
to turn away women and children and men in their time of dire need is not what this nation is all about. let me make this point. the poor execution of this executive order has resulted in chaos and confusion. it is unclear whether the justice department or homeland security had any input. there seems to have been a disagreement about whether it would apply to green cardholders. there was confusion about whether it applies to individuals already in transit or approved for travel. and even airport directors -- and i have spoken directly with the director of los angeles international, san francisco international. there was confusion about how it applies and even airport directors were left in the dark about how many people were detained and who they were. sari yuhani was one californian
caught up in this mess. she is an iranian national studying at california institute for human science in san diego. under a valid student visa. and being detained at lax for 23 hours, she was sent back to the europe, a clear violation of the nationwide stay against the order. what i'm saying is that the court's stay was actually violated. this is just one of more than 100 stories from the weekend. i believe this order is also unconstitutional. the first amendment prohibits government from establishing a religion or prohibiting the free exercise of thereof. the order violates this first amendment by targeting muslims and favoring christians. the order may also violate the religious freedom restoration act, which forbids the
government from burdening a person's exercise of religion. the law bars any discrimination based on national origin in the issuance of a visa. and, finally, detaining people at airports may violate their fourth amendment rights. this was an ill-considered overreach, as the court showed over the weekend, and it should be repealed. so the bill that 27 of us are introducing rescinds the president's executive order. the text is simple because the message is simple. we won't stand for these types of actions. in conclusion, i'd like to say, i'm so proud of the peaceful demonstrations we saw, and i join those who are so passionate about the free exercise of religion and free speech. these are our values,
mr. president. as a nation, i'll be right there with you, if anyone tries to violate them. thank you, mr. president. i yield the floor.. mr. schumer: mr. president, i will speak andake my two motions and then the senator from arkansas can speak and either object or not, whatever he decides. okay. okay, mr. president, i spoke at length on the president's executive order earlier. i just want to repeat, this executive order has made us less safe, less secure, put our troops in the field at increased risk and was implemented in a way that caused chaos and confusion across the country. most fundamentally of all, it
is un-american. it flies in the face of a grand american tradition of granting refuge to those fleeing persecution regardless of their race or political views or religion. it is dangerous, it is shameful, it is wrong. it must be reversed immediately. and i know that many of my colleagues agree with me. they know that this is wrong. a dozen republican senators and counting, including my good friend, the senior senator from arizona, have expressed serious concern. one former republican c.i.a. director said it makes us less safe than we were friday. so let's repeal the order and then sit down and discuss a smart, thoughtful, effective way to counter terrorism. president obama wanted tougher vetting. democrats are happy to look at proposals to that effect. but this -- but not this ineffective, un-american policy that will do more to empower our
enemies and inspire those around the globe who would do us harm. now i'm going to make a second unanimous consent request. i'll do them seriatim as the u.c. allowed. the second request is that we delay the confirmation vote on secretary of state rex tillerson until these executive orders are overturned and he commits to opposing them. so far this is the most important foreign policy order of the new administration, and in the committee hearing for his nomination mr. tillerson appeared -- he wasn't 100% certain -- to roundly reject the idea of a blanket travel ban just like the one president trump signed. he said -- quote -- "i don't support a blanket travel ban on people coming to this country." he stressed in his opening statement that moderate muslims are going to be our greatest allies in the fight against islamic extremists. the complication -- implication
was enwouldn't support a proposal that would inflame them. that would suggest he might be weary about a policy that singles out seven majority muslim countries for different treatment under u.s. policy. now many of these comments, mr. president, that he made to the committee, mr. tillerson did, are at odds with the president's policy. so, mr. president, democrats and republicans alike and the american people most of all deserve to know whether mr. tillerson would implement this executive order or not because it seems to directly contradict comments he made under oath to a senate committee. key allies in the world are wondering whether the potential future secretary of the supports this policy, and so are the american people. here are some important questions: did he have any involvement or consultation in the construction and drafting of the executive order? how would he answer the outcries from countries around the world
asking president trump to rethink this policy? does he think it would make us less safe? does he think it would alienate muslim communities around the world? does he think current green cardholders should be subject to another round of scrutiny if they come back to the u.s. even though they have been vetted before? we need these answers from president trump's nominees. and mr. tillerson's nomination is before the senate right now, so it's imperative we know what he thinks before moving forward. so, mr. president, i am making two unanimous consent requests. first, i ask unanimous consent that the senate proceed to the immediate consideration of senator feinstein's bill, senate resolution 240, introduced earlier today, that there be two hours of debate equally divided, and that upon the use or yielding back of time the bill be considered read a third time and the senate proceed to vote on the passage of the bill.
finally, there be no amendments, motions are points of order to the bill. the presiding officer: is there objection? a senator: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from arkansas. mr. cotton: i reserve the right to object. if the democratic leader wants to proceed with this --. the presiding officer: the democratic leader. mr. schumer: second resolution, i ask unanimous consent that the cloture vote on calendar number 2, the nomination of rex w. tillerson for secretary of the,e postponed until executive order 137 is rescinded and mr. tillerson is provided in writing to the senate foreign relations committee information pertaining to his involvement in the development of the executive order as well as a statement declaring whether or not he agrees with the order. the presiding officer: is there objection to the senator from new york's first request? mr. cotton: mr. president, i object to the first request.
the presiding officer: objection is heard. is there objection to the second request of the democratic leader? mr. cotton: mr. president, reserving the right to object. the presiding officer: the senator from arkansas is recognized. mr. cotton: so, once again we're hearing the democrats and the media traffic in fake news. we heard a lot on this floor and over the weekend about a muslim ban. this is a so-called muslim ban that applies to only seven countries and it does not apply to indonesia, india, pakistan, bangladesh or nigeria, the five largest muslim populations in the world. i've heard claims on tv about 134 muslims who can be affected. that leaves 1.6 billion muslims who are not affected. this is not a muslim ban. this is a temporary pause of movement from seven countries which president trump did not pick from thin air. he picked from acts of this congress and the obama department of homeland security. five countries in a state of
near anarchy. a sixth country, iraq, which set a large part of its territory overrun by the is lamic state and the seven, iran. moreover, it is not a ban. it is simply a temporary pause for three to four months to evaluate whether obama administration policies are strong enough to keep this country safe. we also heard claims that this is somehow unconstitutional. however, there is no free-floating global right of people around the world to come to this country. president trump's order is nothing more than a temporary pause on migration from countries with very weak state institutions or which sponsor terrorism while the president and the administration take a more thorough view of our vetting procedures and the refugee program as a whole. secretary kelly has stated that it does not apply to green cardholders. secretary mattis has reportedly advising that the long-term policy accommodate iraqis with a documented history of serving with our troops, which i
obviously support. in fact, a temporary pause for security evaluations is so sensible that in november of 2015, after the paris terrorist attacks, even the minority leader suggested -- quote -- "a pause may be necessary." end quote. it wasn't beyond the pale then and it's not now. moreover, the people who are enforcing our laws on the front lines agree with president trump. the union for the border patrol and the customs enforcement agents have stated that they support this order and two other related immigration orders. here's the minority shedding crocodile tears over president trump's immigration and refugee policy, but where were those tears the last eight years when president obama's foreign policy created all of these refugees? where were the tears when president obama overthrew the government of libya with nothing to follow? where were the tears when president obama withdrew from iraq, leaving that country to
fend off iran and the islamic state? where were the tears when iran gave -- or when president obama gave iran $100 billion to continue its imperial campaign throughout the middle east to include overthrowing the government of yemen through its proxies. and most notoriously, where were the tears when president obama stood idly by and watched syria go up in flames? spare me the tears now. if the minority is worried about the president's counsel and wants to make a difference in the real world, i suggest we get to work and we confirm rex tillerson to be the secretary of state and jeff sessions to be the attorney general. in the meantime, i object. and i yield the floor. the presiding officer: objection is heard.
is there further debate? if not, the clerk will report the motion to invoke cloture. cloture motion, we the undersigned senators in accordance with provisions of rule 22 of the r standing rules of the senate move to bring to a close debate on the nomination of rex tillerson to be secretary of state signed by 17 senators. the presiding officer: by unanimous consent, the mandatory quorum has been waived. the question is, is it the sense of the senate that debate on the nomination of rex w. tillerson of texas to be secretary of state shall be brought to a close? the yeas and nays are mandatory